The best TV episodes of 2023

All TV is advised via episodes, however not all episodes inform the best model of TV. In fact, the “best episodes” are a very separate metric from the best reveals — one tells the story of the entire, whereas the opposite examines how a lot a selected chapter was in a position to stand by itself.

In fact, what makes an episode a standout has quite a bit to do with the beholder — it could possibly be as a result of it’s notably stunning or humorous, monumental or contained, horrifying or titillating, important to the plot or pure filler enjoyable. The best episodes of tv in 2023 run the gamut of style and tone. However on the finish of the day, the best episodes really feel like one thing price highlighting as a result of of the actual delight of these chapters, the way in which every one feels consultant — and even not notably consultant — of what the present does best.

Listed here are the best TV episodes of 2023.

[Ed. note: Some of these blurbs contain spoilers for the shows in question.]

Blue Eye Samurai season 1, episode 5, ‘The Tale of the Ronin and the Bride’

Picture: Netflix

Blue Eye Samurai could be discovered on Netflix.

Blue Eye Samurai begins off as a very good present, however by the point the fifth episode ends, it turns into an outstanding one. “The Tale of the Ronin and the Bride” weaves collectively three tales — a flashback, a people story advised through bunraku puppets, and the present unattainable struggle that the titular warrior, Mizu, faces. It’s an unimaginable episode, and one which makes use of the medium of animation to its full impact. The flashback helps the viewers perceive Mizu’s actions within the current day, and the people story allegorically ties each of the opposite storylines collectively. Additionally, the struggle scenes are sick. —Petrana Radulovic

Silo season 1, episode 3, ‘Machines’

Rebecca Ferguson resting underground but looking pissed in Silo

Picture: Apple TV Plus

Silo could be discovered on Apple TV Plus.

Silo proved its price with “Machines,” the third episode of season 1. The place the primary two chapters have been pensive character research, “Machines” is a full-on thriller. Sure powers that be need Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson) to take over as sheriff of the silo. She’s recreation, on one situation: She’s allowed to close down the generator to make essential repairs. Nobody has tried such a process — as a result of failure might lead to everybody within the silo dropping energy for good. After which additionally dying.

The core half of “Machines” performs out as a prolonged sequence with the taut depth of a Mission: Unattainable movie. However it’s extra quietly a showcase of Juliette’s unflappable grit — her magnetic defiant streak that offers Silo its narrative engine — delivered through one of the fiercest strains of the present: “Everyone thinks their job in the silo is the most important,” Juliette says. “Mine actually is.” Discuss figuring out your price. —Ari Notis

Jury Responsibility season 1, episode 8, ‘The Verdict’

The cast of Jury Duty sitting at a table looking bored and frustrated

Picture: Amazon Freevee

Jury Responsibility could be discovered on Freevee on Prime Video.

Magicians might frown upon anybody who reveals the secrets and techniques behind an phantasm, however comedy writers aren’t so protecting, particularly after they’ve pulled off a banger. After towing mild-mannered juror Ronald Gladden via seven episodes of a hijinks-filled faux-trial, The Workplace veterans Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky ended their hidden-camera sitcom Jury Responsibility with what quantities to the final word behind-the-scenes featurette. Making Jury Responsibility was a circus of manufacturing coordination, state of affairs constructing, and improvisation, all performed from hidden corners of the courthouse. So whereas “The Verdict” nonetheless gave us a candy coda for Ronald and becoming post-show reflection, it additionally deconstructed what amounted to a David Fincher-level operation pulled off on the fly. A shocking effort for just a few chuckles. —Matt Patches

Succession season 4, episode 3, ‘Connor’s Marriage ceremony’

Kendall (Jeremy Strong) hugs Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin)

Picture: HBO

Succession could be discovered on Max.

This was the massive one, the episode that Succession had been constructing to since its opening minutes: the one the place Logan dies. Brian Cox’s Logan Roy was a drive of nature in each scene he was (dominating) in, however watching the fallout of his demise, and getting every of his youngsters’s distinctive reactions to it, was devastating and felt like a worthy fruits of the 4 seasons of household drama that preceded it. “Connor’s Wedding” was a excessive mark for the sequence’ rocky remaining season, and the final second the place each half of the present felt prefer it was firing on all cylinders. —Austen Goslin

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off season 1, episode 5, ‘Lights. Camera. Sparks?!’

Todd Ingraham as Scott Pilgrim standing and looking at a group of people

Picture: Netflix

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off could be discovered on Netflix.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is a implausible reimagining of the unique Scott Pilgrim film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (and an amazing backdoor sequel), and in no episode is its meta-commentary cleverness extra evident than this one. Throughout this faux-documentary episode concerning the disastrous making of the Scott Pilgrim film, Takes Off deftly dodges forwards and backwards between in-jokes concerning the movie, and expansions of its personal animated world. By the tip of the episode, which incorporates Todd having a breakdown, Ramona preventing Wallace’s stunt doubles, and Envy Adams enjoying Ramona, the sensible zaniness of Takes Off comes into perspective: This present can do principally something it needs, and it’ll. —AG

The Bear season 2, episode 4, ‘Honeydew’

Lionel Boyce as Marcus watches Will Poulter as Luca tweeze something onto food

Photograph: Chuck Hodes/FX

The Bear could be discovered on Hulu.

We’re all entitled to our favourite episodes of The Bear, however I’ve the softest spot for Marcus (Lionel Boyce), and thus I adored “Honeydew” each as a focus for his character, and likewise as a mellow, melancholic meditation — smack dab in between episodes that have been extra confrontational.

It is a man who began his culinary profession as a cook dinner at McDonald’s, and who has solely lately allowed himself to experiment. It’s a lovely factor to see him develop underneath the tutelage of an achieved baker — and likewise fascinating to see Marcus in a room with somebody who has ascended so excessive within the culinary world, solely to listen to that particular person admit they’re “not the best.”

It made me suppose arduous concerning the worth of artwork — how we select to excel within the craft, whether or not by aggressive spirit or an intrinsic love — and the way arduous it’s to permit your self the vulnerability to yearn once you’ve solely actually had the assets and headspace to outlive. A TV author pal of mine lately talked about that he didn’t love the “random” finish of the episode, the place Marcus rescues a person on a motorbike trapped underneath a gate: What even occurs to that man? We by no means meet him once more. I completely disagreed — to me, this emotional beat underlined that caring is a truth of Marcus’ character. Kindness usually will get buried in Carmy’s hectic kitchen, however Marcus retains it alive. It’s a present. —Nicole Clark

The Bear season 2, episode 7, ‘Forks’

Andrew Lopez as Garret explaining something to Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richie, who’s looking incredulous at him as they polish stemware

Photograph: Chuck Hodes/FX

The Bear could be discovered on Hulu.

As quickly as The Bear’s second season revealed that it was going to be following totally different characters in (roughly) each episode, Richie caught out like a sore thumb. Identical to he says to Carmy within the restaurant’s basement early within the season, it’s not likely clear the place he matches in to all this or what he’s even good at. Fortunately, The Bear knew precisely what to do with him. Watching Richie slowly be taught the ropes of nice eating at a prestigious restaurant and discover the methods he loves serving to individuals and making them completely happy was excellent. Every thing, from the echoes of him taking care of Tiff earlier within the season, to his dialog with Chef Terry (Olivia Colman) on the finish of “Forks,” to him operating out and shopping for a deep dish pizza, felt precisely in step with the character whereas nonetheless pushing him ahead and rising him. It’s clear, elegant, enjoyable characterization, and the standout episode of a season that was full of nice ones. —AG

Recreation Changer season 5, episode 9, ‘Escape the Greenroom’

The cast of Gamechanger playing a game in the first episode of the fifth season

Picture: CH Media

Recreation Changer could be discovered on Dropout.

In Recreation Changer, host/antagonist Sam Reich traps improv performers inside their very own instincts, and it doesn’t get higher than when these performers are testing boundaries or pushing again on their circus ringleader. So “Escape the Green Room,” wherein Sam actually traps three unaware Dropout performers in a room, is the apex of the shape. Decorum dissolves instantly. Each breakaway object within the room is smashed in a frenzy (plus some that aren’t, truly, breakaway objects). The filming crew is obtainable $20 to kick an RC automobile. It’s insanity, it’s pleasure, it’s definitely worth the Dropout subscription all by itself. —Susana Polo

Chucky season 3, episode 3, ‘Jennifer’s Physique’

Jennifer Tilly as Jennifer Tilly sitting in court

Picture: Syfy

Chucky could be discovered on Peacock.

On this episode, Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Tilly (who is definitely possessed by Chucky’s ex-girlfriend Tiffany) is charged with 103 counts of homicide. Tilly’s gonzo efficiency as “Jennifer Tilly” is one of the highlights of the present, and the concentrate on her within the trial permits her absolutely dedicated efficiency to shine. The episode additionally guest-stars Kenan Thompson, who will get a very grotesque demise through umbrella. And Chucky, in his quest to seek out essentially the most evil home to be able to undo his an infection with “Christian magic” after a season 2 exorcism (this present guidelines), settles on the White Home. It’s a typical day for Chucky, however in typical Chucky style, it’s a blast. —Pete Volk

The Continental season 1, episode 3, ‘Night 3: Theatre of Pain’

Mark Musashi as Hansel and Marina Mazepa as Gretel looking at the camera

Picture: Starz Leisure

The Continental could be discovered on Peacock.

I used to be very skeptical getting into the John Wick spinoff sequence The Continental; I wasn’t certain how far more element that universe actually wanted. The first two installments have been enjoyable sufficient. However it was the third that actually clicked for me — because of the power of its nice motion sequences.

The present employed legendary motion director Larnell Stovall to design the present’s motion, and it actually paid off, particularly within the third episode. Pitting a contortionist (who performed Gabriel in Malignant) towards an MMA-trained actor was a stroke of genius, leading to a rooftop confrontation that’s among the many best fights of the 12 months. —PV

The Final of Us season 1, episode 3, ‘Long, Long Time’

Bill (Nick Offerman) stands awkwardly as Frank (Murray Bartlett) cheerfully pages through book of Linda Rondstadt sheet music, seated at a piano in The Last of Us.

Photograph: Liane Hentscher/HBO

The Final of Us could be discovered on Max.

HBO’s The Final of Us largely follows the principle beats of Naughty Canine’s 2013 hit online game. In the event you performed and cherished the sport, you would possibly suppose the present is just a little redundant, and also you would possibly even be proper. However episode 3 of the difference, “Long, Long Time,” has one thing particular the sport didn’t. Invoice and Frank’s relationship was solely implied, and we by no means truly acquired to satisfy Frank — it was kind of a mix of the “bury your gays” trope and fridging. Within the present, Frank’s ending nonetheless isn’t completely happy, however we truly get to satisfy and know him, and cry for him, over the course of an episode. Even should you skip the remainder of the sequence, be sure you watch episode 3 — it offers life to a quick, unhappy part of the sport, enhanced by each Murray Bartlett’s and Nick Offerman’s performances as two males who fall in love on the finish of the world. —Kallie Plagge

Star Trek: Unusual New Worlds season 2, episode 2, ‘Ad Astra Per Aspera’

Una (Rebecca Romijn) stands and talks to someone

Photograph: Michael Gibson/Paramount Plus

Star Trek: Unusual New Worlds could be discovered on Paramount Plus.

Star Trek has a love affair with the authorized drama, and it’s not fallacious. A trial bookended The Subsequent Technology, produced some of the franchise’s biggest triumphs, and, although it took many years, is even accountable for Unusual New Worlds present within the first place.

It was formidable for SNW to take a swing at its personal “Measure of a Man.” However “Ad Astra Per Aspera” doesn’t merely equal the transient; it improves on the basic Star Trek trope of placing personhood on trial by maintaining the captain out of the courtroom and the concentrate on the aggrieved minority, not their magnanimous savior. —SP

Poker Face season 1, episode 9, ‘Escape from Shit Mountain’

Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale and Stephanie Hsu as Morty standing in a convenience store

Picture: Peacock

Poker Face could be discovered on Peacock.

Each episode of Rian Johnson’s Columbo-derived murder-procedural sequence is its personal little micro-movie, usually tapping into totally different crime-movie subgenres. “Escape from Shit Mountain” is the Very Dangerous Issues pastiche, the type of story the place a egocentric, reckless particular person makes one unhealthy choice, then doubles down on it, necessitating an entire host of additional unhealthy choices to maintain that first one underneath wraps.

On this case, the primary unhealthy choice comes from Trey (constant Rian Johnson collaborator Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a wealthy, terminally bored man underneath home arrest in a flowery chalet. By this level in Poker Face, the present’s format was getting acquainted, however this episode stretches stylistically, with a Blood Easy-esque neo-noir look and nervy montage modifying, and structurally, with a narrative that downplays Charlie’s shamus position, and as an alternative places her into one mesmerizingly harmful, unpredictable scenario after one other. It’s breakneck, breathless storytelling, with a terrific cameo from Every thing All over the place All at As soon as’s Stephanie Hsu and your complete sequence’ most unnerving episode ending. —Tasha Robinson

How To with John Wilson season 3, episode 5, ‘How to Watch Birds’

A car on fire in a parking lot in a still from How To with John Wilson

Photograph: Thomas Wilson/HBO

Learn how to with John Wilson could be discovered on Max.

John Wilson’s wistful camera-rolling lifestyle has made him a definite voice in documentary storytelling — however even he was sure to get drained after touchdown the chance of a lifetime making his personal present at HBO. Followers knew it was over the minute “How to Watch Birds” premiered; the man who made his bones on capturing unfettered actuality pulled the rug from underneath his viewers’s ft, making them query all the things, as they need to. An F for Pretend for the getting old hipster demo, “How to Watch Birds” begins with a typical inquiry and ends with a automobile explosion. Even a present that might solely exist with a filmmaker as curious as Wilson nonetheless wants just a little of that fabricated push of fashionable TV-making to inform its tales, and Wilson lays all of it out for his viewers to see, which occurs to contain quite a bit of simulated poop. —MP

Reservation Canines season 3, episode 6, ‘Frankfurter Sandwich’

Lane Factor as Cheese fishing in a still from Reservation Dogs season 3

Photograph: Shane Brown/FX

Reservation Canines could be discovered on Hulu.

There are too many nice episodes to select from in Reservation Canines’ glorious remaining season, my favourite present of the 12 months. There’s the one the place Bear meets long-lost neighborhood member Maximus within the desert. Or the heartbreaking episode concerning the Deer Woman’s childhood. Or the one concerning the elders as youngsters. Or the one the place Elora meets her dad. The checklist goes on!

However my favourite is “Frankfurter Sandwich,” the place Cheese, avoiding his buddies, is distributed out by his grandmother to hang around with the uncles. The group goes on a tenting journey collectively, in a really candy and humorous episode that expands on the season’s curiosity in cross-generational relationships and what we are able to be taught from one another. —PV

Hilda season 3, episode 8, ‘The Fairy Isle’

Hilda and her friends ride puffy creatures

Picture: Netflix

Hilda could be discovered on Netflix.

Hilda is one of these phenomenal animated youngsters’s reveals that additionally appeals to grownup viewers. It stars the younger, plucky Hilda (Bella Ramsey), who lives in Trolberg together with her mother, and who has a penchant for exploring nature — and entering into bother. However none of its themes are one-note. Typically Hilda wins and typically she loses, and that’s the very pleasure of life itself.

The third season focuses on the deepest thriller of the present: who Hilda’s household is. The reply to the place she actually got here from is superbly revealed within the finale, in a heavy episode that offers that means to all the things that comes earlier than it. And whereas it’s all the time unhappy when a favourite present involves an finish, I really like the intentionality with which this finale was crafted — right down to the cameos of characters from earlier episodes, proven in a form of ending montage, as if to sign, “Hilda may be over, but her adventures will go on.” It looks like graduating. —NC

Invincible season 2, episode 3, ‘This Missive, This Machination’

Mark Grayson sitting and looking despondently at his mask

Picture: Prime Video

Invincible could be discovered on Prime Video.

The third episode of Invincible’s second season has quite a bit happening. There’s a prologue about Allen the Alien, and a robust B-plot about Debbie attending a help group. A shape-shifting alien reveals up disguised because the ridiculous comedian ebook character Seance Canine, resulting in some hilarious antics between Mark and his roommate.

However that’s all a bait and swap for its final goal: a dramatic, stunning reunion between father and son. The ensuing battle, which continues into the (additionally glorious) fourth episode, doesn’t draw back from Mark’s anger towards his father, or his ache. However as a result of that is Invincible, these emotions should be balanced towards a shock menace, forcing an unlikely and emotional team-up.

The third episode is the place Invincible’s second season actually hit its stride. Now we simply should undergo the await half 2. —PV

The Different Two season 2, episode 6, ‘Brooke, and We Are Not Joking, Goes to Space’

Brooke (Heléne York) looks incredulous at a Jeff Bezos-type leaning across the table at her

Photograph: Greg Endries/Max

The Different Two could be discovered on Max.

Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider’s Hollywood-skewering comedy hit so many highs this season because it vaulted from the deranged into the surreal, however nothing hit as arduous as Cary Dubek (Drew Tarver) standing in a wonderful Billy Porter-ready costume watching as he’s the sufferer of a basic film studio homosexual fakeout. Whereas the title nods to Brooke’s date with a Jeff Bezos stand-in, it’s Cary touchdown the position of Globby, the “first openly queer character” in a Disney Animated movie, that cracks all of the present’s themes: massive breaks, friend-group sacrifices, promoting out your id, and whether or not globs of inexperienced goo can have intercourse. Laced with disappointment however full of jokes, the half hour is strictly what The Different Two does so effectively and what shall be sorely missed when nothing involves take the now-concluded sequence’ place. —MP

Solely Murders within the Constructing, season 3 episode 8, ‘Sitzprobe’

Steve Martin standing and singing in front of a music stand with people seated behind him on a theater stage in Only Murders in the Building

Photograph: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Solely Murders within the Constructing could be discovered on Hulu.

This season of Solely Murders within the Constructing was fairly mild on the detective work and leaned extra on the theater drama of all of it. However the best episode made use of each these parts, seamlessly mixing Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Quick), and Mabel (Selena Gomez) investigating the homicide with the dry run of Loss of life Rattle Dazzle. It culminates in Charles belting out his patter track — a very infectious quantity that he infamously flubbed again and again in earlier episodes — whereas Oliver pulls off the sneakiest subterfuge but. It’s all the things the present does best, and I nonetheless can’t get “Which of the Pickwick Triplets Did It?” out of my head. —PR

Mrs. Davis season 1, episode 3, ‘A Baby With Wings, a Sad Boy With Wings and a Great Helmet’

Jake McDorman as Wiley standing and touching a sword

Photograph: Sophie Kohler/Peacock

Mrs. Davis could be discovered on Peacock.

Tara Hernandez and Damon Lindelof’s Mrs. Davis goes ridiculously far afield in its story, leaping from the Crusades to the modern-day Vatican to a desert island to a Vegas magic act to a modern-day nunnery. However episode 3 does the best job of defining the cautious tone of that weirdness, as paranoid cowboy Wiley (Jake McDorman) fully derails the present’s central quest to take part in an absurd endurance contest generally known as “Excalibattle.” The episode leaps forwards and backwards in time as Mrs. Davis so usually does, filling in backstory on the sophisticated, fraught relationships that sequence protagonist Simone (Betty Gilpin) has with Wiley and others.

However the true pleasure of this episode is how arduous it leans into Wiley’s spontaneous obsession with an occasion that’s each ridiculous and painfully mundane, and the way convincingly it explores the lengths individuals will go to after they’re attempting to erase previous shames and reside as much as their very own self-images. The entire episode appears to be laughing at Wiley, and at macho self-aggrandizing generally — and but it’s sympathetic as effectively, each to his struggles along with his previous, and to his impulsive, determined try to discover a repair that helps him reside with himself. —TR

The Satan’s Plan season 3, episode 3, ‘Episode 3’

Contestants in The Devil’s Plan sitting around a table in the pilot

Picture: Netflix

The Satan’s Plan could be discovered on Netflix.

Like all good aggressive actuality TV present, The Satan’s Plan was at its best when showcasing gamers forming alliances to be able to acquire strategic benefits and extra gold items (the sport’s inside forex). And whereas almost each recreation within the season compelled gamers to work collectively — there’s all the things from a model of Mafia to a hidden object reminiscence recreation — episode 3’s collective board recreation was a real spotlight.

Teams instantly break up into two factions, realizing they might create interlocking guidelines to screw one another over. One group shaped a method for forcing their opponents backward; the opposite tried to anticipate what that group was doing, and failed completely. It was thrilling to look at the rigmarole of greater than 10 individuals work along with restricted assets whereas mendacity to one another’s faces. As in any nice aggressive actuality TV present, the drama all performed out within the recreation. —NC

Schmigadoon! season 2, episode 5, ‘Famous as Hell’

Schmigadoon! could be discovered on Apple TV Plus.

Parodying ’60s and ’70s Broadway musicals like Chicago and Cabaret let Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio’s Schmigadoon get sharper, extra assured, and extra enjoyably bizarre in season 2 than it was in season 1, which channeled sunnier, earlier musicals from Brigadoon to The Music Man. Each episode in season 2 has a minimum of one hilarious, irresistible earworm. However the entire thing comes collectively most clearly in episode 5, “Famous As Hell,” which finds extra space for the supporting solid — notably Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth.

The title quantity is the spotlight, because the central couple, Melissa (Cecily Sturdy) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key), stranded in a magical musical realm, drop their objections to the place and begin getting snug. Melissa earns a fervent fandom in a cabaret out of Cabaret, and Josh turns into the hero of a flower-child cult out of Godspell. Immediately, a reasonably foolish present that’s roughly one-tenth about navigating life’s disappointments and nine-tenths about Broadway in-jokes finds a sharper focus. It turns into far more of a narrative concerning the temptations of escapism and simple solutions — which Tituss Burgess underlines as as a fourth-wall-breaking singing narrator equally channeling Pippin’s narrator and Judas from Jesus Christ Famous person, and completely devouring armloads of surroundings each time he seems. “It was a rhetorical questionnnnnnn!” —TR

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